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The Half-life of Facts.

 
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Tue 22 Oct, 2013 07:09 am
@Ding an Sich,
For someone who objects to so-called facticity, he spends a lot of time telling us about what he calls fact.
0 Replies
 
joefromchicago
 
  2  
Reply Tue 22 Oct, 2013 08:43 am
@fresco,
fresco wrote:
But I would say it is interesting to compare the current existential status of "a Hitler" with that of "a Jesus+2000 years".

The reason that there is a controversy surrounding the existence or non-existence of Jesus is because of the lack of contemporary evidence, not because nobody cares about Jesus any more. There is a good deal more contemporary evidence that Hitler existed - indeed, enough evidence that his existence can be considered irrefutable. Perhaps some future cataclysm will wipe out all of that evidence, and Hitler will become semi-mythical, like King Arthur. That, however, won't alter the fact of his existence, merely the evidence of his existence.
0 Replies
 
raprap
 
  1  
Reply Tue 22 Oct, 2013 08:47 am
@Setanta,
If it is based on an unsubstantiated premise--it is no theory.

Rap
joefromchicago
 
  2  
Reply Tue 22 Oct, 2013 08:47 am
@fresco,
fresco wrote:
It is an assumption which works for you but has little to do with the etymology of the word "fact", from the Latin (to construct).

The etymology of "fact" is irrelevant, at best it's an interesting triviality. Indeed, your argument is a kind of an argumentum ad verecundiam - an assertion backed up by the authority of the Latin language. But a fact is no more a construction because of its Latin roots than a pen is a penis because of its Latin roots.
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Tue 22 Oct, 2013 08:50 am
@raprap,
Eggs-acktly . . . but you need to tell the philosophers that, not me.
0 Replies
 
fresco
 
  1  
Reply Tue 22 Oct, 2013 09:31 am
@joefromchicago,
Fait accompli, eh Joe ! Wink

It certainly is not irrelevent to a constructivist account of epistemology, which is one foundational basis for the transient nature of "facts".
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Tue 22 Oct, 2013 09:34 am
@JLNobody,
JLNobody wrote:
The bushman is subject to the same reality as I: we both suffer inflamed teeth because of the same reality*, but long ago you and I would have explained it differently--with different "facts"--

Of course we would! That's because we got the facts wrong when we thought the toothache came from our neighbor's bad spell, and we're getting them right now that we know about bacteria. Wrong is different than right.
JLNobody
 
  1  
Reply Tue 22 Oct, 2013 09:44 am
@Thomas,
Ah, a believer in the inevitability of progress toward an absolulte truth--at the end of our journey. My bias is to assume that with time there will be change, changes we (or at least those thinkers in the future) will prefer. And that, of course, is relativism not absolutism.
joefromchicago
 
  2  
Reply Tue 22 Oct, 2013 09:46 am
@fresco,
fresco wrote:
It certainly is not irrelevent to a constructivist account of epistemology, which is one foundational basis for the transient nature of "facts".

No, it's completely irrelevant. Just try your argument in German (where the word for "fact" - Tatsache - doesn't have the same Latin root) and see.
Thomas
 
  2  
Reply Tue 22 Oct, 2013 09:55 am
@fresco,
fresco wrote:
In the Middle ages it was a "fact" that there were four colors in a rainbow, and four elements.

That's not a fact, though I recognize you put quotes around the word. That was an opinion about the facts that turned out to be wrong.

fresco wrote:
Today the physicist Brian Cox writes "whatever can happen, does happen at the quantum level".

That's not a fact either. That's an interpretation of quantum mechanics, an attempt to translate its concepts from the language of math into plain English. Attempts like these never really work, and this one is no exception.

fresco wrote:
Facts are statements about our expectancies and our limited ability to control what we call "the world".

Says who? Certainly common usage in American English implies no such thing. (See my response to JLNobody.) You, too, seem to speak some private language of your own, while letting your correspondents believe you're speaking English.

fresco wrote:
What we call the world changes as we change.

Exactly. Our words for the world and the things in it change; the world itself does not.

fresco wrote:
The word "gravity" implies we know how to predict the movement of what we call "bodies" in what we call "a gravitational field". But do we call that parochial knowledge the fact or do we eliminate the term "gravity" entirely and use Einstein's "space tells matter how to move, matter tells space how to curve" as the fact ?

There is a broad domain of physical phenomena where the predictions of Newtonian physics are consistent with observation. Our entire everyday lives are included in this domain. Within it, there is no difference between Newtonian and Einsteinian physics, so we may as well keep our Newtonian terminology.

There are other domains where the general theory of relativity makes predictions consistent with evidence and Newtonian physics do not. (Gravitational lenses and such.) In these domains, Newtonian physics is wrong --- and has always been.
Thomas
 
  3  
Reply Tue 22 Oct, 2013 10:02 am
@JLNobody,
JLNobody wrote:
Ah, a believer in the inevitability of progress toward an absolulte truth--at the end of our journey.

No, a believer in whatever evidence supports. Thanks to microscopes and other instruments, we just happen to have better evidence about bacteria and their impact on the human body than our ancestors, the believers in witchcraft, did. It's perfectly possible that we will someday descend into a new Dark Age, that we will lose the progress we have made. But this doesn't change that we have made progress, evitable as it was.

If you want to call "belief in whatever evidence supports" a religion, go ahead. It would be just another example of you speaking your private language and pretending it's English.
0 Replies
 
fresco
 
  1  
Reply Tue 22 Oct, 2013 10:20 am
@Thomas,
Quote:
fresco wrote:
What we call the world changes as we change.

Exactly. Our words for the world and the things in it change; the world itself does not.


I should have perhaps have added and vice versa. We change "the world" ...which changes "us" ...etc ad infinitum. There is covariance of existential states which mirrors epistemological evolution.
i.e. By "wrong", you seem to be saying "doesn't work in certain contexts". But since contexts are forever evolving so are what we call "facts".
0 Replies
 
fresco
 
  1  
Reply Tue 22 Oct, 2013 10:40 am
@joefromchicago,
Question Laughing
Don't you think the graphemic structure of "fact" looks less like the German Tatsache than it does to faire or facere ?

If you want to argue with a constructivist account per se that fine, but constructivists themselves cite the etymology as significant.
Thomas
 
  2  
Reply Tue 22 Oct, 2013 11:33 am
@fresco,
fresco wrote:
Don't you think the graphemic structure of "fact" looks less like the German Tatsache than it does to faire or facere ?

That's beside Joe's point. The point is that the word "fact" has a a straightforward translation into German, and that your statement about "facts" is obvious nonsense in German. This indicates that it's at least nonobvious nonsense in English.

That being said, your argument doesn't work in plain English, either. The English word "fact", as defined in standard dictionaries like this one and this one, simply doesn't mean what the constructivist-philosophish word "fact" means, according to whatever dictionary you're using.
fresco
 
  1  
Reply Tue 22 Oct, 2013 11:43 am
@Thomas,
Since when did lexicographers need to study philosophy ?

Joe tends to have a " get fresco thing" and he is grasping at straws on this one.

Quote:
(Regarding observation)...what is observed are not things, properties, or relations of a world that exists "as such", but rather the results of distinctions made by the observer himself or herself. Consequently, these results have no existence whatever without someone's activity of distinguishing. Just as Vico, the first constructivist thinker, said, the cognitive subject can know only facts, and facts are items the subject itself has made (Latin: facere).

Ernst Von Glaserfeld (Constructivist)

joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Tue 22 Oct, 2013 11:44 am
@fresco,
fresco wrote:
If you want to argue with a constructivist account per se that fine, but constructivists themselves cite the etymology as significant.

And yet another argumentum ad verecundiam.
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Tue 22 Oct, 2013 11:47 am
@fresco,
fresco wrote:
Joe tends to have a " get fresco thing" and he is grasping at straws on this one.

I don't think that's true. There has been plenty of nonsense that you've posted on A2K that I've simply ignored. I'm not the Fresco Truth Squad. But if there's anyone who is grasping at straws here, it's most certainly you.
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Tue 22 Oct, 2013 11:52 am
It must be very difficult for the noble and courageous Fresco to deal with all of these people out to get him while he cries out the truth in the wilderness. My, my, my . . .
fresco
 
  1  
Reply Tue 22 Oct, 2013 11:57 am
@joefromchicago,
Quote:
And yet another argumentum ad verecundiam.

Yet far superior to argumentum ad populum or argumentum ad tonsor tabernam
fresco
 
  1  
Reply Tue 22 Oct, 2013 12:00 pm
@Setanta,
"Truth" Very Happy ...what's that ?
 

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